Dover traffic: Chaos blamed on P&O ferries as bad weather and holiday traffic spark deepen gridlock

Dover M20 is at a standstill as a cocktail of factors contribute to Saturday morning's gridlock.

Dover has been plunged into traffic chaos, with gridlocked roads near the port caused by disruption to cross-Channel ferries and bad weather.

The suspension of P&O services has also reduced capacity at the port, while bad weather and a shortage of ferries have also been blamed for long queues.

The freeze on the ferry services, with three of the company's vessels at berth in Dover, has been partly blamed for long queues in the area.

Adverse weather in the Channel and congestion caused by tourists travelling to Kent for an Easter getaway are also said to be contributing to the jams.

P&O Ferries sacked 800 workers without notice across the UK last month and replaced them with agency labourers, sparking widespread outrage.

The company is facing a government insolvency service criminal probe, and the Pride of Kent has been detained by officials following a safety inspection at Dover.

Drivers have been forced to wait for hours to board ferries after measures were triggered to control the movement of HGVs in the area.

Three P&O ferries in total are still out of action, following the decision to mass sack staff last month.

Residents living in Dover have told ITV News Meridian's reporter they had to make journeys miles from their homes by foot this morning.

Under Operation Brock, lorries heading to Dover are allowed to use one side of the M20 while all other traffic is restricted to a contraflow system on the opposite side.

HGVs and cars headed for the gateway to France have been blocking many routes for local people.

The delays are also blamed on 'Operation Block', where a section of the M20 is being used to park lorries, leading to long tailbacks.

One lorry driver told ITV News it’s taken him more than a day to get to the Port with Operation Brock and Dover Tap in place

The Department for Transport (Dft) said efforts were being made to minimise disruption.

"We are aware of queues at Dover, and the Kent Resilience Forum and local partners are working to minimise any disruption by deploying temporary traffic management measures as standard," it said in a statement.

"This has been caused by a number of factors, including severe weather in the Channel."

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke blamed the delays in part on P&O Ferries, which she said is still not operating following "failed safety checks" on its new crews.

Ms Elphicke warned the disruption is expected to last for the next few days. "The traffic disruption caused by P&O's actions is very serious. Coupled with adverse weather conditions and the Easter get-away traffic the situation has become severe. This can be expected to continue for the next few days," she said.

Kent Police and National Highways are helping with traffic management on the M20.

National Highways said the M20 J11 eastbound entry slip road remained closed on Saturday morning "to manage freight traffic".